Athletic Insight - The Online Journal of Sport Psychology


Utilizing the Person-Organization Fit Model of Personnel Selection in Athletic Programs

Michael Sagas
Department of Health and Kinesiology
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77845

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      Humara's (2000) manuscript detailing a personnel selection model based on the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary in predicting successful athletic performance provides the literature with a usable model worthy of validation studies. The present article is an attempt to expand on the model advanced by Humara to include a new model of selection that is emerging in the personnel psychology literature. This model is geared to selecting a person that will fit into the culture of the specific organization and called the person-organizational fit model of selection. This model is based on the principle that employers should hire "people" for "organizations" rather than conventional models which are based on hiring "KSA's" for "jobs" (Bowen, Ledford, Gerald, & Nathan, 1991).

       Two types of fit are required in the person-organization fit model: 1) fit between the individual's KSA's and the task demands or requirements of the job; 2) fit between the personality of the individual (e.g., values, beliefs, interests) and the culture or climate of the organization (Bowen et al., 1991). The conventional selection models focus almost completely on the first fit (KSA's and job) and is geared more towards finding new employees than retaining them. The later focuses on the whole person in an attempt to satisfy the individual enough to stay by matching the culture of the organization and the individual (Bowen et al., 1991). The manuscript by Humara almost exclusively provides the traditional KSA-job fit model, with the exception of the discussion of the Test of Attitudinal and Interpersonal Style (TAIS), which could measure some criteria in a person-organization fit model. As such, the present commentary will focus on how a coach can use the "people" for "organization" aspect of the person-organization fit model to select an athlete that not only meets the KSA's of the job as discussed by Humara, but will also fit into the culture of the team.

       The benefits of using a person organization fit model are well documented in the personnel psychology literature. The most significant of these findings have indicated that employee attitudes are enhanced when a fit between the organizations culture and the employee is met. These attitudes include greater job satisfaction, organizational commitment as well greater team spirit among co-workers (Bowen et al., 1991;Wanous, 1980). Studies have also identified that employee behaviors are also enhanced in those hired under a person-organization fit model. These findings indicate that organizations that use the model have low rates of turnover and absenteeism. Research has also indicated that employees hired under the model exhibit greater "organizational citizenship behaviors" which are behaviors exhibited by employees that go above and beyond the job requirements (Bowen et al., 1991). Obviously, it is unclear if similar outcomes would result in an athletic setting from the use of the model. However, because there is sufficient evidence in the literature outside of sport showing a positive effect from the use of the model, coaches should at least recognize its potential effect on their teams.

       There are some potential problems that exist in the use of the model as well. The greatest of which is the undeveloped selection technology. Many of the measures in the personnel psychology literature are undeveloped and unproven (Bowen et al., 1991), which would present a problem in trying to establish their validity in sport organizations. Another potential problem to the model is an increased investment of resources, as identifying the fit between the athlete and team culture can require additional time in the selection process.

       Because the personnel psychology literature has failed to produce measures that validly measure the person organization fit, the most reliable and valid measure of the person organization fit would be the coach's initial judgement of the athlete. The initial judgement of a potential employee is often considered the first step in the model (Adkins, Russell, Werbel, 1994). However, until the validation of the model can be established along with valid measures in which to establish job-related predictors, the interview may be the only methodology available to coaches when selecting personnel. Therefore, the coach not only needs to identify the many predictors of athletic performance discussed by Humara, but also must pay substantial attention to how the athlete might fit into his or her program during interviews and conversations with the athlete. Another source of information as to the fit of the athlete is to discuss how the athlete might fit on the team with athletes on his or her current team that have had contact with the athlete. Obviously, this method may be difficult to accomplish for athletes that do not make campus visits during the selection process (in college athletics), but should be reasonable at the high school or club level.

       Collectively, because the literature shows evidence that using the model can increase the attitudes of employees, as well as their behaviors toward the organization, coaches should consider implementing the model in some facet in their selection decisions if they do not practice such already. The best way to implement the model in its current state would be to consciously pay attention to the interview process and establish the opinions of other stakeholders. However, this methodology carries little validity that the proper predictors of fit will be explored. The model should at least be considered in the selection process and sport scholars should move to establish the model as a valid predictor of job-related outcomes, as they should the Humara model, which is also in its beginning stages of validity.

      In sum, based on the available literature, an argument could be made to incorporate both models in a combined approach of selection (Jackson & Schuler, 2000). This approach calls for the employee to meet some minimum requirements for the position, such as predictors established as important to that position (e.g., psychological, physiological, prior performance data, and person organization fit predictors). Once these criteria are met, scores above and beyond the minimum amount are combined to establish the suitability of the candidate for the job (see Jackson and Schuler for discussion on the approach). This approach will insure that the candidate will meet not only the requirements of the job, but be able to develop and reach his or her potential in a favorable work environment.


      Adkins, C. L., Russell, C. J., & Werbel, J. D. (1994). Judgements of fit in the selection process: The role of work value congruence. Personnel Psychology, 47, 605-623.

      Bowen, D. E., Ledford, G. E., & Nathan, B. R. (1991). Hiring for the organization, not the job. Academy of Management Executive, 5 (4), 35-51.

      Humara, M. (2000). Personnel selection in athletic programs. Athletic Insight, 2 (2).

      Jackson, S. E., & Schuler, R. E. (2000). Managing human resources: A partnership perspective. (7th ed.) Cincinnati: South-Western College Publishing.

      Wanous, J. P. (1980). Organizational entry: Recruitment selection, and socialization of newcomers. Reading, Mass: Addison-Wesley Publishing. Free Textbook Program

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